After papillary thyroid cancer, Follicular thyroid cancer (Follicular carcinoma) is the most common type of thyroid cancer because out of all thyroid cancer cases, 15% of them are follicular thyroid cancer. Follicular carcinoma is considered to be more cancerous (malignant) than papillary carcinoma.
Follicular thyroid cancer is less common in children and occurs in an older age group than papillary thyroid cancer. When compared to papillary cancer, it rarely occurs after radiation therapy.
Survival is related to the extent of vascular invasion. Age plays an important role when it comes to prognosis. Patients above 40 years of age suffer from a more aggressive disease and usually the tumor does not concentrate iodine as well as in younger patients. Vascular invasion is one of the features of follicular thyroid cancer and therefore distant metastasis is more common.
Follicular thyroid cancer poses serious threat to lung, bone, brain, liver, bladder, and skin. As in the case with papillary carcinoma, lymph node involvement is far less common in follicular carcinoma.
Features of Follicular Thyroid Cancer
- Follicular thyroid cancer is common in the ages 40 and 60 years old.
- Follicular thyroid cancer is seen more in females than in males by 3:1 ratio.
- The outlook depends on the size of the tumor.
- This cancer is rarely linked with radiation exposure.
- Cancer spreading to lymph nodes is rare in follicular thyroid cancer.
- Spreading into veins and arteries within the thyroid gland is common.
- Follicular thyroid cancer can be cured in young patients but the chances decrease with age.
Some common follicular thyroid cancer treatments
Follicular thyroid cancer is restricted, minimally invasive and may be treated with hemi-thyroidectomy and isthmusthectomy in a young patient. Older patients require total thyroidectomy and removal of any enlarged lymph nodes in the central or lateral neck areas.
- Radioactive Iodine: Thyroid cells have the cellular mechanism to absorb iodine. Thyroid cells produce thyroid hormone by absorbing iodine. There are various kinds of radioactive iodine, with one type being toxic to cells. Follicular cancer cells absorb iodine and can be destroyed by giving the toxic isotope. Not everyone is a candidate for this therapy, but those with larger tumors, tumors of aggressive nature, tumors that invade blood vessels within the thyroid and older patients may benefit from this therapy.
- Thyroid Hormone Replacement: Whether a patient has just one thyroid lobe or the entire thyroid gland removed with a total thyroidectomy, experts agree that these patients should be given thyroid hormone for the rest of their lives. This is necessary to replace the missing hormone in those who have had the thyroid gland removed and to lower further growth of the gland in those with some tissue left in the neck.
Talk to your endocrinologist regarding any concerns you have about follicular thyroid cancer, including available treatment options. Remember to track of all your follicular thyroid cancer symptoms.